Sunday, 9 September 2012

Dinosaur Jr. - I Bet On Sky

Ten albums into a career that began in 1984 Dinosaur Jr have returned with ‘I Bet On Sky’; an unashamedly more melodic prospect than the Black Sabbath influence of their eighties albums and the product of a band who are finally at peace with their own past and the occasionally fiery internal dynamic that went along with it.

Frontman, J Mascis can make an excellent claim to being the finest alternative rock guitarist of his generation, capable of both Thurston Moore’s abrasiveness and Peter Buck’s melody and true to form when he lets rip here his group hit a deadly groove reminiscent of Neil Young & Crazy Horse in all their ragged glory. His solo all over the final two minutes of ‘Watch the Corners’ is jaw-dropping, displaying a fluency and feel that’s practically unmatched, leaving young pretenders like Yuck sobbing into their flannel shirts.

As on the previous two records bassist Lou Barlow takes charge for two tracks, ‘Rude’ and ‘Recognition’. The former is a lovably rough sub-three minute piece of slacker power-pop that mixes goofy lyrics like ‘I wish I didn’t care cos caring is rude’ with choppy chords and a solo that coalesces simply around the melody line, whilst the latter packs an explosive chorus courtesy of drummer Murph’s enthusiastic tub-thumping and punky stabs of guitar from Mascis before breaking into a thundering circular riff similar to Muse’s ‘Knights of Cydonia’

Though Barlow’s contributions lack the abrasiveness of Mascis splenetic slacker-muse a grown-up approach to song-writing democracy clearly suits the group. With every song no longer the product of the battle between a dictatorial Mascis and a combative Barlow, the old adversaries help each other along, locking into wicked power trio grooves on the likes of the punky ‘Pierce the Morning Rain’ and six minute closer ‘See It On Your Side’ which features Mascis at his most Neil Young-like, ripping into a hurricane solo as Murph pinballs around behind him.

Continuing a late career run of great albums begun by ‘Beyond’ and continued by 2009’s ‘Farm’ it’s clear that very few of their alt-rock peers have dated half as well, let alone remained a viable song-writing concern. Dinosaur Jr have proved they still have the chops to roam the earth.


Max Sefton

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